Problem of Plenty: Shinde's Sena Playing Spoiler for Ajit Pawar Over Portfolios?

The deadlock, sources say, is over Ajit Pawar wanting key ministries for the NCP, including finance.

3 min read
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"Everybody is opposed to Ajit Pawar getting the finance ministry. What if he does the same thing he did while he was the finance minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government?" asked Prahar Janhakti Party (PJP) leader Bacchu Kadu, a part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra that is going through an overhaul after the Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) entry on 2 July.

Ten days since the NCP ministers took oath and joined the ruling alliance leading to a vertical split in the party, the portfolio allocation is still pending.

Following clear discontent within Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena about the NCP coming on board in the first place, a marathon of meetings to allocate portfolios for the past three days have not yielded any positive results.

The deadlock, sources say, is over Ajit Pawar wanting key ministries for the NCP, including finance.

The deadlock, sources say, is over Ajit Pawar wanting key ministries for the NCP, including finance.
According to sources, most leaders of the ruling alliance, including some from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are opposed to Ajit Pawar getting the finance ministry which is currently being held by deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.

But finance is not the only key ministry that the NCP expecting to get.


The Negotiations

With negotiations having reached a deadlock so far, Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel are expected to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Wednesday.

In three consecutive days of late-night meetings, with the latest one held on Tuesday ending at 1:30 am at Fadnavis' residence, Ajit Pawar is believed to have stressed upon the seniority of several ministers including Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil to justify the demand for key ministries.

According to sources, the NCP is keen on several portfolios including Finance, Public Works Department (PWD), Housing, Irrigation, and Water Resources.

In all the meetings held so far, CM Shinde and his ministers have staunchly opposed Ajit Pawar getting the finance ministry, sources say. When Shinde led the rebellion and split the Shiv Sena last year, one key complaint registered by his faction was Ajit Pawar withholding funds of MLAs of other parties.

Most leaders, including Kadu, have openly expressed fears of a repeat of what allegedly happened during the MVA government.

The deadlock, sources say, is over Ajit Pawar wanting key ministries for the NCP, including finance.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with others during the Muslim minority community convention, at Shanmukhananda hall, in Mumbai, Sunday, July 9, 2023. Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) leader Anandrao Adsul is also seen.

(Photo: PTI)

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Ajit Pawar faction leader Suraj Chavan said that the NCP is experienced to handle the finance ministry.

"The portfolios will be decided in the next two days. The NCP is experienced to handle the finance portfolio. I am sure all senior leaders, including Fadnavis, will take that into consideration," he said.

Ajit Pawar also reportedly wants the guardian minister posts of Satara, Sangli and Pune for his ministers, given the party's dominance in these regions, sources say.

Meanwhile, Sena's Bharatshet Gogawale continues to oppose the appointment of NCP's Aditi Tatkare as the guardian minister of Raigad.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Gogawale said: "When the cabinet expansion will happen is a key question. We are also waiting for it. We ourselves don't know anything yet. But the expansion needs to happen before the upcoming Assembly session."

Refuting claims of any party being upset, cabinet minister and Sena leader Uday Samant on Tuesday said: "When a third party comes on board, there are some portfolios that have to be compromised upon. The talks are underway and everything is cordial between the three allies."

Math of the Ministries 

With 288 Assembly seats in the state, Maharashtra has a total of 43 ministries in the cabinet.

Including the CM post, the Shiv Sena has ten ministers. While the BJP has ten ministers including the deputy CM post, the NCP has nine with Ajit Pawar as the deputy CM.

With the induction of the NCP, 29 ministerial berths have already been filled leaving 14 vacant.

With just two parties in the fray, the Sena expected to get at least ten of the berths, which now clearly looks unlikely.

The BJP currently holds several key portfolios including home, finance, water resources, law, energy, education, and public works.

The Sena, meanwhile, holds health, IT, social justice, environment, and employment guarantee.

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Topics:  BJP   NCP   Devendra Fadnavis 

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